Sunday, Sept 20th, 2009
Deputy US army chief, Gen. James Cartwright and defense secretary Robert Gates amplified President Barack Obama’s statement on the US missile shield in East Europe in Washington Thursday, Sept. 17, by announcing that a new and better anti-missile missile system would be deployed in Israel and the Caucasus.
DEBKAfile discloses exclusively that the system would be installed at a Russian military base in Azerbaijan. Referring to the Israeli component, he said: “It is already working perfectly.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose he was referring to the advanced American FBX-T radar system deployed last year in Israel’s Negev base at Nevatim, which is capable of tracking a missile launched from the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and beyond. The system, product of Raytheon, is mobile and capable of detecting incoming bodies the size of a baseball from a distance of 4,700 km, determining its speed and angle of flight and transmitting the data to an interceptor at any point on earth.
DEBKAfile reported earlier Thursday:
The Obama administration’s decision to shelve the plan to install US missile interceptors and radar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic was released Thursday, Sept. 17. The shield was promoted by the Bush administration in the face of strong Russian opposition for the purpose of shielding Europe from long-range Iranian ballistic missile attack.
DEBKAfile reports that Barack Obama’s decision prompted Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s surprise comment Monday, Sept. 14, that his government no longer rules out further sanctions against Iran – although the Kremlin has always denied its cooperation with the US on the Iranian nuclear issue was contingent on the removal of the US missile shield plan.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly in its coming issue (out Friday) will reveal how the shared US-Russian wish to avert an Israeli military strike against Iran produced Obama’s decision to ditch the missile shield in East Europe.
Our Washington sources report that the decision follows a 60-day assessment of the issue announced by Obama. “The US will base its decision on a determination that Iran’s long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental US and major European capitals,” said unnamed current and former US officials.
On Aug. 29, DEBKAfile reported exclusively from East European sources that Washington was considering the transfer of its missile plan from Poland and the Czech Republic possibly to Israel and Turkey.
This decision is an important foreign policy step for Obama; it is a prize for Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, who fought the US shield plan on Russia’s doorstep tooth and nail, and a major strategic reversal for Iran. Moscow’s cooperation removes a key obstacle on the road to harsh sanctions against Iran. Acting in concert with Moscow, Washington can dispense with Beijing’s endorsement.
Nonetheless, DEBKAfile’s Moscow sources stress, it is not entirely clear how far the Kremlin is willing to go in partnering the US drive against Iran. Russian leaders will take good care not to appear to the Muslim and Arab world as Iran’s enemy or a trading and diplomatic partner who reneges on its commitments.